Olsson, a partner at Hong Kong law firm King & Wood Mallesons, was among six Australian executives, including BHP and Rio Tinto, to meet their Chinese counterparts from Sinosteel and Chinalco for the first time in two years in December. He said the symbolism of the 50th anniversary of Whitlam establishing formal diplomatic relations in 1972 could be used to Australia’s advantage.

Anniversaries are particularly significant for the Chinese Communist Party, which attaches political and social capital to historical landmarks to further its grip on power.

David Olsson, Chairman of the Australia-China Business Council.Credit:Eddie Jim

“Despite all of our differences, the anniversary is an extremely important milestone,” Olsson said. “[It] cannot be neglected.

“While both sides may wish to exercise caution in some areas, this is a clear opportunity to celebrate the decades of people-to-people, educational, commercial and cultural relations between the two countries, as well as the contribution of the Chinese community. -Australian to the fabric of daily life in Australia.

Grain Growers Australia chief executive Dave McKeon says Australian barley farmers have been losing $500 million a year since prohibitive tariffs were imposed on Australian exports in May 2020. Those penalties are now being challenged at the World Trade Organization. At the same time, wheat and sorghum exports to China have surged, while other farmers have diversified into Japan and Vietnam.

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“We see a bit of a window of opportunity ahead of us. While we must maintain our values ​​and our sovereignty as Australia, we can absolutely continue to look at how we can engage in a truly constructive way with Australia’s largest trading partner,” he said.

“Hypothetically, if we were to see these tariffs removed, China has continued strong demand for high quality grain and Australia is a large producer of high quality grain. We have just come out of a very big harvest. It would be great at some point in the future if we could resume this trade. »

McKeon said he is ready to work with the new Minister of Commerce, Don Farrell, to move the negotiations forward. “The best course of action is through direct bilateral talks,” he said.

In its editorial, Xinhua said China and Australia have had “long” good relations that have brought tangible benefits to both sides. The Chinese government-run news service quoted Fortescue and Minderoo chairman Andrew Forrest praising China for its “great support” during COVID-19 and Melbourne philanthropist and former diplomat Carrillo Gantner urging the relationship to ” quickly get back on track.”

The business community has been accused of overlooking some of China’s aggressive moves in the region and human rights abuses at home in its pursuit of China’s massive market. This is the challenge the Albanian government now faces as it tries to land in a position where it can criticize China’s actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea without fear of economic retaliation. .

Olsson said cooperation on climate change could help repair the long-term relationship and strengthen short-term business opportunities.

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“Climate change is an area where there is common ground and where there is at least some room for coordinated efforts,” he said.

The climate crisis facing the Pacific was at the center of negotiations during visits by Wang and Foreign Minister Penny Wong to the region last week. Wang, who flew to Tonga on Tuesday, said on Saturday he was “willing to improve communication with all countries that care about Pacific island countries, especially Australia and New Zealand.”

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